The New Microsoft Teams client and Avatars are in public preview!

Today it was finally announced by Microsoft – the long awaited new Microsoft Teams client for work is making its first appearance to public! While we have enjoyed new Teams app on consumer side, what we really wanted is the new Teams we can use at work. I have had the pleasure to try out the new client for months now, but of course I could not talk about it until it was released to public. I already saw the new Microsoft Teams in my demo environment, when I enabled it. Read on!

  1. Why the new Teams?
  2. Get Started
  3. New Teams, New Channels!
  4. Enable new Teams for users
  5. Avatars in public preview, GA scheduled for May!
  6. Conclusion and next steps

It is good to understand that this preview version does not include all features of the current Teams client. There is a long way ahead until there is a feature parity. Most often used features do work such as basic meetings, new channels, collaboration, chat and some apps.

Why the new Teams?

The big why for the new Teams is that it is faster, more performant and uses less resources than current Teams. Opening the client is faster, navigating in teams is faster and joining a meeting is faster. And there is support for multiple enterprise accounts and switching between tenants is FAST. It is finally as easy as on mobile client. When you add a new account, it takes a few moments longer on the first time, but after that you get to experience the new speed record in tenant switching!

On top of tenant switching, you can also see and set your status in other tenants easily – and you get notifications from all tenants to one view – so you can switch and see the notification content just by clicking on it.

Get Started

You can switch between classic and new Teams very easily. There is a Try the new Teams on top left corner of the client.

And you can switch back to classic teams in the same way – toggling between classic and new Teams as you need.

This is what I have been using a lot when I have had access to new Teams. I keep using the new Teams, when possible, but also jumping back to the classic Teams client when I needed something that is missing from the new one; avatars and advanced meeting options are not available with the new Teams at the time of writing this article. There are also other missing features like 3rd party and Line-Of-Business applications that are not there yet.

Why there isn’t a feature parity with classic Teams?  It is because the new Teams has been reimagined and rebuilt from the ground up to address better performance and resource gaps the classic Teams has. The current Teams client has been receiving new features and performance upgrades all the time as well, so I think those features have been built in a way that they can be integrated to New Teams as soon as possible.

Of course there is going to be hiccups when the new Teams is in preview – remember to submit Feedback for Microsoft so they can improve it.

Settings doesn’t have as extensive list of as with classic Teams. I expect this will grow over time as new Teams matures.

For heavy users (like me) it has been a great practice to use New Teams client and use web client to get access to most current Teams features. This way you can get best of both worlds – faster and less resource consuming new Microsoft Teams and access to features that are not available in the version yet. I usually need to switch back to classic Client when I want to use Avatars or advanced meeting features that are available only in desktop client of classic Teams.

New Teams, New Channels!

With the new Teams you also get new channels! The two most visible changes are that you post messages on the top, instead to the bottom, from now on. It took me a while to get used with that but after some time – it was really natural. Just like posting to LinkedIn or other platforms.

Another great feature is the possibility to pop out conversation on channel to a separate window – just like you can pop out chat conversation.

Enable new Teams for users

Now it is a good time for IT Admins to opt-in and enable new Teams experience to their organizations. Of course, don’t forget to let people know what the new toggle will do – and why and when they should use classic or new Teams. At this point new Microsoft Teams preview is only available on Windows. Admins can activate New Teams in Teams Admin Center (TAC) under Teams Update Policies. Selecting Use new Teams client to Users can choose will bring the toggle for users having that policy. Note: it can take a while before it is seen by user. Logging Teams out and back in can speed up the process.

The new Microsoft Teams Admin documentation.

Avatars in public preview, GA scheduled for May!

I mentioned Mesh Avatars in the article earlier – there is also great news about them too! Avatars are going to public preview as of now and are to be generally available during May this year!

Compared to earlier avatars there are several improvements – specially to lighting.

How to get started with Avatars? Just search for Avatars application and add it.

And you are ready to design your own avatar!

Conclusion and next steps

The new Microsoft Teams looks and feels better than the classic client. Microsoft has done also visual and user experience tweaks to make the new client be modern from inside to outside. It looks good!

I am looking forward to seeing the new Microsoft Teams get more and more features in a rapid pace during this year.

Read more from Microsoft blog posts on the new Microsoft Teams and Avatars.

Read about updated architecture and design from Microsoft blogs.

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